<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Top Stories]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Sat, 30 Aug 2014 05:12:20 -0700 Sat, 30 Aug 2014 05:12:20 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Accused Nurse Showed Friend Baby's Room]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 21:30:25 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Michael-Lutts-Folo-crop.jpg

A longtime friend of a San Diego nurse accused of molesting a 2-month-old foster child said she visited the suspect at his home before the graphic allegations came to light and he even showed her the nursery he had set up for his new baby.

Michael William Lutts, 50, a pediatric nurse working at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego, allegedly sexually abused a foster child in his care, recording the crimes on camera, according to a complaint filed by the FBI Wednesday.

He’s accused of beginning the lewd acts on Aug. 4 – the very same day he received custody of the prematurely born baby. According to graphic details in court documents, the alleged abuse included Lutts touching and manipulating the baby boy’s genitals while masturbating, among other things.

Lisa Rosenfeld and her family have known Lutts for the past 20 years.

She said Lutts once worked with her sister caring for children with autism. Rosenfeld’s father was also Lutts’ landlord, renting him an apartment for many years.

On Friday, Rosenfeld told NBC 7 she was completely shocked and disturbed by the accusations of child molestation against Lutts.

She said she had recently visited Lutts at his new home where he showed her the room he had prepared for his incoming foster child.

“I had gone to see him at his new house and he showed me the room he had all set up because he was going to adopt a baby boy,” Rosenfeld recalled. “The room was set up beautiful – all set up for a baby boy.”

Rosenfeld said Lutts mentioned he “had to do a lot of stuff to show he was a proper parent” prior to becoming a foster father.

She said she never imagined Lutts would soon be charged with the molestation of the baby boy.

“I was shocked to hear this, like, ‘Oh my God.’ Totally shocked; it’s not acceptable. Nobody should do that to a baby,” she said. “I never dreamed he would do something like that to a baby.”

Rosenfeld said she saw no signs that Lutts might commit these alleged crimes.

While he was a tenant at her father’s apartment, Rosenfeld said Lutts had no problems, always paid his rent on time and had lots of friends, all of whom were “age-appropriate.”

Given his job as a pediatric nurse and access to children, Rosenfeld said officials will have to thoroughly investigate just how far his interactions with young patients went. She also hopes investigators look at Lutts’ time working with children with autism to ensure there were no victims there.

Rosenfeld said that if Lutts is guilty of the sexual abuse, he should be in prison.

“That’s the kind of person that needs to be locked up. It doesn’t matter who it is – anybody that’s going to do harm to a baby. It’s a baby. That’s not acceptable,” she said.

“I never saw this coming. Wow. There’s nothing else you can say,” she added.

On Friday, Lutts appeared in federal court for a detention hearing with his head down, shackled at the waist. He did not speak and appeared sullen.

Through his attorney, he agreed to spend at least the next two weeks in jail without bond
Prosecutors could not comment on the case due to the ongoing investigation but did say Lutts may be indicted before his next court appearance, which is scheduled for Sept. 9.

Lutts was arrested Tuesday after the FBI raided his College Grove home. Investigators allegedly found thousands of photos and videos on his phone and computer depicting graphic sex acts with children, including his 2-month-old foster child.

According to court documents released this week, Lutts was also videotaped naked in his living room with the baby near him while he performed lewd acts on himself. Pictures show the hospital tag was still attached to the infant’s leg.

FBI agents said the newborn can be heard crying through many of the videos. The abuse happened over the course of at least five days, according to investigators.

The 2-month-old victim has since been placed in the care of Child Protective Services.

On Thursday Kaiser Permanente said Lutts had been suspended from work and would not be returning until the investigation and criminal proceedings are completed.

The medical group's spokesperson said the hospital has had no indication from law enforcement that their patients were possible vicitms but its administration is working with authorities.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[1-Day Sentence for Driver in Deadly Firefighter Crash]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 19:58:48 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Wood-Steffey-0829.jpg

A woman who pleaded guilty to causing a head-on crash that killed an off-duty firefighter in Campo last year will only spend one day in jail, a San Diego judge ruled Friday.

Several months ago, Natasia Wood, 22, pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter in the death of U.S. Forest Service firefighter Darin Steffey, 37.

On Friday, Wood was ultimately ordered to spend one day at Las Colinas Detention Facility for the deadly crash and was given three years of probation and community service in what a judge called a "very terrible, tragic, one-time mistake."

Steffey's mother, Jill Reid, was overcome with emotion at Wood's sentencing. She spoke in court about everything Steffey's family will have to miss now that he's gone.

"It means no wedding celebration, no grandchildren to love, no family gatherings that we would be a cherished part of," said Reid.

The mother said she recently spent her son's birthday not celebrating with him, but rather visiting his gravesite at Miramar National Cemetery in "the most painful way imaginable."

Steffey's sister, Heather Steffey, also addressed the court, speaking about how her only sibling's death has forever changed her life.

“There is nothing in life that will ever be worse than losing my brother. He was my built-in best friend, family and support. [His death] has crippled my existence, left me almost hysterical and unable to deal with the things that I used to be able to deal with," she said. "It has broken my life.”

“I valued no person more on this Earth. That’s what you took from me," Heather added, holding back tears. "I wear my brother around my neck in an urn every day and sometimes hear his sweet voice joking around as we used to.”

Steffey's girlfriend, Jessica Raddatz, also spoke at the sentencing. She said she and Steffey had planned to get married and some day start a family. Since losing Steffey to the deadly crash, Raddatz said she's suffered from depression and PTSD, and still can't believe he's gone.

“My world no longer shines. There are days when I just lay on the couch. I may not have been on the back of that motorcycle but I may as well have been killed because [Wood] has killed me too,” Raddatz said, sobbing.

“The defendant killed a man. And it was so preventable,” a prosecutor told the court, speaking about the dangers of speeding.

According to police, Wood was driving at more than 70 mph – about 15 miles over the posted speed limit – when she lost control and veered into northbound traffic lanes on Buckman Springs Road on Oct. 3, 2013.

Wood’s vehicle collided head-on with Steffey, who was riding his motorcycle. He was killed in the accident.

Steffey, also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and former hotshot firefighter, was on his way home from work at the time of the deadly crash.

The collision happened just a mile away from Steffey’s fire station. His colleagues were the first responders on scene.

Wood's father, Carlos Wood, also spoke at Friday's sentencing. He said his daughter had been unexpectedly called into work on the day of the accident, which may have played a role in how rushed she felt as she drove.

“I don’t justify speeding in any way, shape or form, but I believe this was an accident,” said Carlos.

The defendant's father said his daughter feels extreme guilt for causing the crash and "wakes up in the middle of the night screaming because of what she did."

Wood's attorney also told the court her client "regrets every day what she did, driving on that road too fast," and is truly sorry for taking Steffey from his family.

Since the accident, Steffey’s family, girlfriend and friends have been working to get justice for their loved one.

In January, Steffey’s mother spoke one-on-one with NBC 7 about her beloved son and urged others not to speed while driving.

Steffey's loved ones maintain a Facebook group that follows their fight for justice in this case.

Raddatz has also created a "Darin Steffey Roadside Memorial Fund," which collects donations to erect a permanent roadside memorial sign in Steffey's honor that will "remind others of the tragic consequences of reckless driving." To donate, click here.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego]]>
<![CDATA[Security Officers in Trolley Beating Video Fired ]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:48:52 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Raw_MTS_video_part_2_1200x675_321266243960.jpg

The two security officers caught on camera hitting and wrestling a man aboard a moving trolley have been fired, the Metropolitan Transit System announced Friday.

The unidentified guards worked for Transit Systems Security (TSS), a company contracted to enforce safety on MTS trolleys and buses.

On Aug. 18, the employees were recorded on MTS video beating a shirtless man named Felipe Vedoy.

Over the course of the ten-minute video, Vedoy enters the trolley at the Grossmont Trolley Station in La Mesa, the guards confront him and begin hitting him. They are later shown pulling out their batons and striking the man.

When the trolley stops at the 70th Street Station, the officers orders all passengers to get off. Vedoy is then escorted out of the car by three security guards. He was taken to the hospital for minor injuries.

MTS authorities say the day of the incident, they opened an internal excessive force investigation, which led to the guards’ termination. They also turned the video over to the La Mesa Police Department to decide if the security officers will face criminal charges.

“This incident never should have happened and we will take all appropriate steps internally and with TSS to help prevent future occurrences,” said MTS CEO Paul Jablonski in a statement. “We do not tolerate that kind of behavior.”

In addition to firing the guards, MTS officials say they and TSS will review and possibly revise all policies, procedures and training programs and ensure supervisors are reviewing security officers in the field.

Photo Credit: MTS]]>
<![CDATA[Woman in Golf Cart Killed on Private School Campus]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 21:15:30 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/El-Cajon-Golf-Cart_1.jpg

A woman was killed in a collision between a golf cart and a pickup truck on the campus of a private school in El Cajon.

The woman, described as in her 50’s, was fatally injured when the golf cart she was driving was struck by a pickup truck according to witnesses.

The identity of the victim was withheld pending notification of family.

The collision happened just before 11 a.m. at 2100 Greenfield Avenue on the campus of Christian Unified Schools. There are three schools on the property a high school, junior high and elementary school.

After colliding with the golf cart, the truck crashed into a nearby tree. The man behind the wheel, described as in his 50’s, was taken to a nearby hospital for minor injuries.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. El Cajon Police say alcohol or drugs do not appear to be factors.

Anyone with information regarding this collision is encouraged to contact the El Cajon Police Department Traffic Division at (619) 441-1645.

<![CDATA[West Nile Virus Cases Reported in East County]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 17:26:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/West+Nile+Virus2.jpg

Health officials believe two East County patients have contracted West Nile virus after they were both bitten by mosquitoes bites near their homes.

A 73-year-old La Mesa man has been hospitalized with a confirmed case of the virus, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) reported Friday. He was admitted for an infection of the brain and its surrounding tissue – a problem resulting from West Nile.

A 44-year-old El Cajon woman received outpatient treatment for flu-like symptoms with a rash, and doctors say she probably had the disease as well.

The HHSA says four out of five people who contract the virus do not show symptoms, and 1 in 150 of those infected will have serious, potentially deadly neurological complications. The greatest risk is among people over 50 years old and those with weakened immune systems.

Less severe symptoms include headache, fever, swollen glands, nausea, skin rash and fatigue.

In July, a Santee man who showed no signs of the disease tested positive for it in a routine blood screening. His was the first confirmed, local case of West Nile since 2012.

Health officials recommend protecting yourself and your family using a three-step system: prevent, protect and report.

Prevent mosquito breeding by emptying any backyard item like pots, buckets or rain gutters that can hold stagnant water. Free mosquito fish can help control mosquito breeding in pools, ponds and fountains.

Protect yourself from mosquito bites by using insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 when you’re spending time outside, and make sure all your screens are secure.

Finally, report dead crows, ravens, jays, hawks and owls, as well as green swimming pools, to the Vector Control Program at 858-694-2888. Dead birds could carry West Nile virus. At least three have tested positive for the disease in El Cajon.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Rescued Horse Gives Birth to Foal in County Care]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 22:03:48 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/2014_0829+Baby+Horse2.jpg

When San Diego County Animal Services seized a variety of neglected animals last weekend, workers came away with 31 horses.

Now, they have 32.

One of the recently rescued mares gave birth to a little foal Friday at the Bonita Animal Shelter.

When the mother and fellow emaciated horses were first taken from the Valley Center property, every rib could be seen poking out from under their skin. They also suffered from severe hoof problems, veterinarians said.

But under the careful watch of county caretakers, the baby was born to be the picture of health and cuteness.

The name chosen by staff? Bonita.

“Because A: she’s at Bonita right now, and B: Bonita in Spanish means pretty, and we all think she’s very very pretty,” said Dan DeSousa, deputy director of Animal Services.

Three llamas, four miniature cattle, five geese and one dog were also among the animals rescued from the property in the 28300 block of Hell Creek Road. They have been taken to a private ranch or the county’s Carlsbad facility.

DeSousa says there’s a slim chance the owner will legally get the livestock back. They’ll most likely be sold at a future silent auction.

Right now, that owner is not facing any criminal charges. It will be up to county veterinarians to decide if they will present a case to the District Attorney’s office.

Photo Credit: Animal Services]]>
<![CDATA[Former Staffers Blamed for Break-In at DeMaio Office: Source]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 21:19:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/demaio+campaign+office+vandalism.jpg

Two former staff members are being blamed for a May break-in at Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio’s San Diego campaign headquarters, a source close to the investigation told NBC 7.

Computer screens were smashed, cords and cables were cut, gas cards were stolen and water was poured over laptops, printers and copiers at the Miramar office on May 28, six days before the primary election.

The source says before the burglary and vandalism, two DeMaio staffers were terminated for taking proprietary information from the campaign.

Victims identified those staff members as potential suspects early in the police investigation, said SDPD’s Lt. Kevin Mayer, and the two have cooperated with detectives.

Mayer did confirm the burglary did occur, but at this point, officials have not developed enough probable cause to identify a suspect.

He expects the case will be turned over to the District Attorney’s office within the next couple of weeks, at which point they will decide whether to file charges and make an arrest.

"We were outraged by the damage done to the campaign during this break-in and hope the individual responsible is held fully accountable for their actions,” Dave McCulloch, a spokesperson for the DeMaio campaign, said in a statement Friday.

This November, DeMaio will try to unseat incumbent Scott Peters in California's 52nd congressional district during the general election.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Driver in Deadly Hit-and-Run Has Expired License: Clerk]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 21:22:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/oceanside+marine+hit+and+run+crash+082814.jpg

The driver in an Oceanside hit-and-run crash that killed an active-duty Marine should not have been behind the wheel, a rental car clerk told NBC 7.

Ezequiel Garcia, 30, was driving a rented cargo van on an expired license during the fatal crash, according to a employee at Budget Car and Truck Rentals.

Oceanside Police say Thursday morning, Garcia pulled out of parking lot and tried to make an illegal U-turn onto Douglas Drive. But as he turned, he collided with a motorcycle driven by 22-year-old Marine Brandon Bizzarro.

"It's just...it was horrid, it was just terrible,” said Kim Campos, who drove up to the crash after Bizzarro was airlifted away.

Garcia immediately took off from the scene, investigators say, and tried to return the van to Budget Rentals a few miles away.

The clerk told NBC 7 Garcia came in “panicked” and said, “Somebody just hit me.”

The vehicle had been rented to a woman because Garcia’s license was expired, so he was not supposed to be driving it, the employee said.

She advised him to go back to the scene, which he did. Police took him to their headquarters and subsequently booked him into jail for felony hit-and-run.

He will be arraigned on the charge Tuesday.

"Had he not left the scene, in all likelihood, he would not have been charged with hit and run,” said OPD Lt. Leonard Cosby. “The law requires you to stay in the event of an injury to check on the welfare of the driver to exchange information. He did not do that."

Bizzarro was placed on life support when he arrived at the hospital, but by Thursday afternoon, he had died.

Campos said she knew something serious had happened, based on the aftermath.

"I could tell just by all the glass and stuff that was on the road and the way that motorcycle was facing the opposite way, so I just didn't know it was a Marine at the time, and then when I found out, it really touched my heart,” she said.

Photo Credit: Artie Ojeda]]>
<![CDATA[New Lululemon Store Celebrates Grand Opening]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 21:12:53 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Yoga-Generic.jpg

A new lululemon athletica store is opening at Fashion Valley Mall this weekend and the retailer plans to celebrate with plenty of free activities open to the public.

For starters, on Friday beginning at 10 a.m., the new 3,800-square-foot store will host a morning dance party with beats by DJ Jay and treats from Better Buzz Coffee and The Cravory.

On Saturday at 8:30 a.m., lululemon invites guests to get sweaty with brand ambassadors Theresa Larson and Ray Fernandez in Center Court. After the exercise session, attendees can refuel with Suja Juice and the Perfect Bar.

Finally, on Sunday at 9:30 a.m., guests are invited to throw on those yoga pants and attend a free yoga class in Center Court led by brand ambassador Andre Houle. After the workout, musician Jonny Tarr will play live music at the lululemon store.

The new, highly-anticipated lululemon location is on the second level of Fashion Valley Mall, between J. Crew and Sur La Table, and offers yoga and fitness apparel for both women and men.

When the store was first announced earlier this year, mall representatives said the retailer planned to host various healthy community events, including weekly complimentary yoga classes and goal-setting workshops.

Judging by the opening lineup of activities this weekend, the retailer will make good on this plan.

According to the lululemon website, the celebration of the new Fashion Valley store will continue on Sept. 7 at the Catamaran Resort in Pacific Beach with a “Sweat Life” event that includes paddleboarding, beach games, food and music.

<![CDATA[Local Eateries Unite for Bacon Fest]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 13:25:18 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/bacon-generic1.jpg

More than 20 local eateries will unite this Saturday for a tasty trifecta of hog wild fun that includes bacon, beer and bands at NTC Park Liberty Station.

From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Preble Field will turn into piggy paradise for the 2nd Annual Hormel Black Label Bacon Fest, a celebration dedicated to arguably the greatest meat of all time.

The sizzling shindig includes more than 20 San Diego eateries serving creative bacon-themed dishes, including South Paw Social Club’s “Elvis” sandwich, which combines peanut butter, banana and homemade bacon jam on grilled bread.

The Blind Burro will pig out with bacon ceviche, a mix of Applewood smoked bacon, avocado and pico de gallo with housemade chips. Meanwhile, Bub’s San Diego will represent with the ultimate carnivore treat: chicken wings wrapped with bacon.

Additional local restaurants set to participate in the porky party include Sublime Tavern, The Patio, Uptown Tavern, Crazee Burger and Slater’s 50/50 (click here for the full list).

Approximately 25 local breweries will also take part in the event, including Ballast Point, Mike Hess Brewing, Karl Strauss Brewing Co., The Lost Abbey, Mission Brewery and Stone Brewing Co.

Live tunes will be handled by 40 Oz. to Freedom, Cruz and The Routine.

General admission tickets cost $60 per person and include unlimited samples. VIP tickets can be purchased for $100.

Proceeds will benefit All About the Kids, a non-profit dedicated to enhancing the lives of children and families in need. For more details, visit the event website.

<![CDATA[Preview: Del Mar’s First Fall Racing Season]]> Tue, 26 Aug 2014 14:05:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Del-Mar-Races-Blurb-5326410.jpg

Summer horse racing season in Del Mar wraps up next week but the surf will meet the turf once again this fall when the race track welcomes its inaugural fall racing season.

For the first time ever, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club will open its seaside track for a new horse racing stretch dubbed “Bing Crosby Season,” which runs Nov. 7 through Nov. 30.

Like its summer counterpart, the short racing season will keep the good times rolling with eight races each day plus other events, including an Opening Day celebration and live musical performances.

Entertainment includes a Reggae Fest with Iration on Nov. 15 and a concert featuring the band CAKE on the Seaside Stage west of the Grandstand on Nov. 29. On Nov. 22, foodies can sample some gourmet meals on wheels with a special food truck event and a blanket giveaway.

On Nov. 29, visitors can also enjoy a craft beer festival, a Movember event and the biggest race of the meet: the Hollywood Derby.

Races are scheduled over the course of 15 days, mainly Thursday through Sunday, with earlier post times of 12:30 p.m. on weekdays and 12 p.m. on weekends. On Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 27), the first post is slated for 11 a.m. There are no live races Monday through Wednesday.

On Sundays, football fans can multitask and take in both racing and football simultaneously at Del Mar’s Cabana Football Lounge, a cool space that includes TVs, bars and food options.

According to organizers, this additional second season at the track pays tribute to the Hollywood glamour of the 1930s when the iconic Bing Crosby founded the track with his celebrity pals.

To that end, Opening day will kick off with a Gatsby-style celebration that includes guests in their finest fall threads and an “Old Hollywood Fashion Contest” that includes awards for Best Dressed Couple, Best Old Hollywood and Best Celebrity Lookalike.

Fall racing admission is $6 per person daily and $3 for Diamond Club members.

As for freebies, every Friday – with the exception of Opening Day – is free for Diamond Club members and includes admission, a program and half-priced beer, sodas and hot dogs.
Closing Day (Nov. 30) is free to all in Del Mar.

To check out the full calendar of races and events for the Bing Crosby Season, click here.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Baby Gorilla Crawling, Eating, Growing]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 19:41:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Joanne-Gorilla-Eating-1.jpg

Like an active, healthy toddler, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s baby gorilla is growing by leaps and bounds, now sitting and eating on her own.

According to zookeepers, 5-month-old Joanne is as curious as can be these days. When she’s not riding on her mother Imani’s back, she spends time crawling and foraging.

Keepers said Joanne is alert and active, taking fewer naps throughout the day. She has also started sampling solid foods, mainly fruits and vegetables, now that she has about eight teeth with which to chow down.

Her favorite foods, by the way, are currently kale and grapes cut in half. She often watches her mother intently as she eats, mimicking those behaviors and picking up fruits and veggies of her own.

But, while she’s enjoying the tastiness of solids, keepers said the baby gorilla’s primary source of nutrition continues to be from nursing.

Little Joanne is also quite the roamer.

Safari Park keeper Jami Pawlowski said the gorilla is beginning to crawl away from her mother a bit, testing her limits.

"Imani always keeps her eye on her but Joanne is testing out her independence and seeing how far she can get," Pawlowski explained. “We’re seeing Joanne be more and more active.”

Keepers said Joanne shares her habitat with seven other gorillas, including 3-year-old Monroe and 6-year-old Frank. Although Imani remains very protective of her baby, the mother will sometimes let Frank hold Joanne. Monroe often tries to play with the baby, poking and peering at Joanne before running away.

Joanne was born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on March 12 via rare emergency C-section. Two days later, she suffered a collapsed lung and had to undergo treatment. She received around-the-clock care until she made a full recovery.

Since then, she’s been growing stronger by the day, getting to know other members of the gorilla troop and sharing important bonding time with her mother.

Joanne – named in honor of Joanne Warren, the first chairwoman of the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global – was Imani’s first baby and the 17th gorilla to be born at Safari Park. The facility currently houses eight gorillas. Two male gorillas in the troop, Monroe and Frank, were also born in San Diego in 2011 and 2008, respectively.

Photo Credit: Tammy Spratt]]>
<![CDATA[UCSD Building Evacuated for Hazmat Incident]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 20:34:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/hazmat+team+UCSD+0829.jpg

A hazardous materials incident has prompted fire crews to evacuate the social sciences building at UC San Diego.

San Diego Fire-Rescue officials say two unknown chemicals mixed by staff members in a school chemistry lab, possibly creating explosive material.

An SDFD hazmat team and bomb squad were called in around 5:50 p.m. to deal with the situation. Once on scene, they ordered that the building be evacuated and that those in adjacent buildings shelter in place. 

Roads in the area were closed as a precaution.

However, by 8:30 p.m., the SDFD crews began downgrading the response as the threat no longer posed a problem. 

They have since handed operations over to the UCSD hazmat team, which will dispose of the chemicals. 

Photo Credit: Nicole Gomez]]>
<![CDATA[Why You Should Buy Renter's Insurance]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 19:25:09 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Renting-Bob-Hansen.jpg

Renters are not protected by their landlords. If there is a theft, a fire or smoke damage, the landlord's insurance does not pay for the renter's belongings. For that, a renter must have their own insurance, which is why renter's insurance is so important.

"If there was a fire, if there was water damage, I just want to make sure I don't have to worry about it," said Bliss Allen.

Allen lives in Rancho Penasquitos with her husband and two young boys. They have rented for nearly five years and have always had renter's insurance.

"It is so inexpensive," said Bliss. "And the peace of mind is definitely worth it."

Renter's insurance generally costs between $10 and $20 a year depending on how much coverage is necessary. The deductible is often around $500. That coverage is important whether you're a family of six renting a home or a single student living in a studio apartment.

State Farm agent Walt Waggener says the best place to start shopping for insurance is with the company that insures your car.

"It may drop your auto insurance premium if you purchase a renter's policy," said Waggener. The agent says it is important to make sure your policy covers replacement value not just the value of items at the time of the loss.

Allen says it has been worth the peace of mind.

"Thankfully we've never had to use it but I definitely think it is worth it," she added.

Photo Credit: Bob Hansen]]>
<![CDATA[Suspected DUI Driver Rear Ends CHP Motor Officer]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 17:10:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chp+motorcycle+crash.jpg

A California Highway Patorl officer on a motorcycle requested his own medical aid after a suspected DUI driver rammed into him on State Route 125 Friday.

Around 4:20 p.m., the CHP motor officer called dispatch to say he had been badly rear-ended in the freeway's southbound lanes near Interstate 8. 

An ambulance soon arrived to transport him to the Sharp Memorial Hospital. 

Video from the scene shows other CHP officers placing handcuffs on the other driver involved. They say he has been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

The crash is still under investigation.

<![CDATA[Taxi Hits, Kills Woman in NYC]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 02:55:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/shane+kennedy.jpg

A 58-year-old woman died after being hit by a taxi SUV as she tried to cross a Manhattan street Friday afternoon, police say.

Police say the 30-year-old taxi driver was making a left turn onto East 79th Street from Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side around 2 p.m. when he hit the woman as she was crossing the street, pinning her underneath the cab.

"Everybody was screaming. We just wanted to know what happened," said Guillermo Silva, a construction worker who was working nearby. 

Silva and a group of good Samaritans, including at least six other construction workers, lifted the taxi and pulled the woman from under it, their only thought to "gotta get her outta there, gotta get her outta there," said Silva. 

One of those bystanders, Justin Havlik, said: "I took what strength I had and belted it out and lifted the car. The other two guys pushed it and we rested it on my thigh. We braced ourselved and then tossed it over." 

Witness Stephanie Knepper said: "I saw them lift up the car to bring a woman who was trapped under the car." 

Despite the good Samaritans' attempts, the woman was pronounced dead at Lenox Hill Hospital, according to police. 

Silva said he would do it all over again if there was any chance the woman could have been saved.

"We would do that for anybody. Nobody wants to see stuff like that, you know?" he said. 

It wasn't clear if the driver of the taxi was hurt, or if he will face charges. 

Photo Credit: @SeamusPK via Twitter]]>
<![CDATA[Secret Service: Man May Pose Threat]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 21:14:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/obama+westchester+aug+28.jpg

Police in Westchester and Secret Service were investigating a report of a "potentially suspicious person and vehicle" near where President Obama visited Friday for a set of fundraising events, authorities say.

An official with the Secret Service told NBC News the agency was working with local police to determine the validity of the report. 

The official did not elaborate on why the person and vehicle were considered suspicious.

Connecticut State Police were also told by Secret Service to be on the lookout for the suspicious person as Obama prepared to head to another fundraiser in Rhode Island later in the evening, a police spokesperson said. 

Obama landed in Air Force One at Westchester County Airport shortly before 2 p.m. Friday, and the presidential motorcade headed toward Sound Shore for the first fundraising site. The president then headed to Purchase later in the afternoon to attend a DNC Labor Day barbecue. 

Area streets were closed off as the president made his way through the area. He left the area at 5:30 p.m. for another fundraiser in Rhode Island. 

<![CDATA[Fetus Found at High School: Police]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 20:19:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/woodrow.JPG

Authorities are investigating after they say a human fetus was found in a girls restroom Friday afternoon at Woodrow Wilson High School in East Dallas.

A staff member made the discovery, officials said, and responding medical authorities determined the remains to be a human fetus.

Dallas police said surveillance video at the school is being reviewed, and they tweeted that the investigation is in the preliminary stages:

Dallas ISD said parents and guardians of Woodrow Wilson students will be notified, and they encourage families to discuss the situation. Counseling support will be available to students and staff members into next week.

Officials ask that if any student knows who the fetus may belong to or has any other information that could help, they should contact Dallas police.

DISD released the following statement Friday evening:

Dallas ISD is deeply saddened by the situation that occurred today at Woodrow Wilson High School. This afternoon, responding medical authorities determined that a human fetus had been found in a girls restroom at the school. The Dallas Police Department, assisted by Dallas ISD Police, is handling the investigation.

Dallas ISD immediately dispatched staff from the district’s Psychological Services Department to the school to provide professional support for students and staff members. Additional counseling support will continue to be available next week. The district encourages any member of the Woodrow Wilson community to utilize these services.

Dallas ISD is in the process of notifying parents and guardians of Woodrow students via the school’s webpage and SchoolMessenger phone system. The district encourages parents and families to discuss the situation with their students, and when appropriate, encourage their students to meet with counseling staff at the school.

Dallas ISD will continue to provide additional support and resources to the school community during this difficult time.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Secret Service Hunting Man]]> Sat, 30 Aug 2014 04:30:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP995664873180.jpg

Hamden police say that a vehicle beleived to be driven by a suspicious person who may have threatened President Barack Obama has been located and a person involved is in custody.

According to Hamden Police Lt. Kevin Samperi, a car involved was located on Mix Ave. in Hamden. The Secret Service took a suspect into custody.

On Friday, local police in New York received reports that someone possibly trying to harm the president was headed in that direction. 

Authorities said that the suspect was driving a car with Connecticut plates.

The vehicle was described as a 2014 blue Volkswagen Jetta. 

President Obama landed in Air Force One at Westchester County Airport just before 2 p.m. on Friday before heading to fundraising events in New York, NBC New York reported. He then landed at Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island on Friday evening.

A number of police bulletins went out in New York and Connecticut searching for the car.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Crews Battle Mission Valley Brush Fire]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:01:59 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/mission-valley-fire-0829.jpg

A small brush fire was reported in a riverbed in Mission Valley Friday.

The fire flared up around 2:30 p.m. next to trolley tracks near southbound State Route 163 near Interstate 8 , San Diego Police confirmed.

The blaze covered about a tenth of an acre but one firefighter said it’s the second time a fire has started in that area in the last two months.

Smoke was visible to nearby traffic. Trolley service was not disrupted.


<![CDATA[Deserts Under Heat Warning for Labor Day Weekend]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:22:55 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/2179656.jpg

Those planning on spending the long holiday weekend in the desert or rural areas of Riverside and Imperial Counties should plan ahead for excessive heat.

The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for cities such as Yuma, El Centro as well as remote areas known for off-roading and dirt biking.

Temperatures reaching 110 to 113 degrees may be experienced Saturday. The warning has been issued through 8 p.m. Saturday.

People playing or working outdoors and those living without access to air condition will face a higher risk of heat-related illness.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Drink more water than usual.
  • Avoid alcohol, sugar and caffeine.
  • Wear light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat
  • Take frequent rest breaks
  • Watch for symptoms of heat illness including headache, thirst and muscle cramps.

Untreated heat illness can lead to fatal heat stroke.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gang Ties in Abduction, Murder Case]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 17:14:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Schuylkill+River+Abduction+Police+Search.JPG

Police have narrowed their search for the suspects who killed two brothers -- slitting their throats before dumping their bodies in the Schuylkill River -- and critically injured another man over a $100,000 debt.

"We'll be coming to get you shortly," said Philadelphia Police. Capt. James Clark when asked if he had a message for the five people suspected in the abduction and double homicide.

Authorities learned of the barbaric crime Wednesday morning when the surviving victim, 23-year-old Thanh Voong, climbed from the banks of the Schuylkill River and began screaming for help around 4 a.m.

Hours earlier, the abductors were holding the three men -- who have ties to gangs and are well-known to authorities -- at a home on the 2400 block of 72nd Street, according to investigators.

The suspects were holding the brothers -- both in their late 20s and originally from Vietnam -- captive after they gambled away $100,000, which they were given to buy drugs, according to reports.

Voong showed up at the house with $40,000 to pay off the debt, but it was not enough to satisfy the suspects, sources said.

Early Wednesday morning, investigators found the bodies of the two brothers submerged in the water. Their throats were slit and both were bound with tape and tied to buckets.

Investigators removed similar buckets filled with roofing materials from the home on the 2400 block of 72nd Street Thursday.

Neighbors told NBC10 a woman and five children lived in the home. But they fled in an apparent rush since food was still on the stove when police arrived, according to reports.

Authorities also towed away an Audi A8 sedan Thursday as part of the investigation. They did not disclose how the vehicle,which was found on the 22nd Street overpass above the Vine Street Expressway, was related to the crime.

Police said they know who committed the crimes, but they are still searching for the suspects.

"They have obviously means, they have a lot of money, " Clark said. "They have a lot of different locations they've lived at through the years so right now we don't know where they're at or where they're headed."

As the investigation continues, Voong is recovering from seven stab wounds at Hahnemann University Hospital.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[1 Giraffe Survives Twin Birth]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 17:13:02 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/giraffe+calf+31.jpg

Rare twin male giraffe calves were born at the San Francisco Zoo Tuesday morning, but only one survived, zoo officials said Friday.

The stronger calf weighed 100 pounds and is 5'6" tall and was "immediately healthy, alert and nursing," zoo spokesperson Abbie Tuller said. The second giraffe was described as "much smaller and weak at birth and was not able to nurse or function independently on his own," Tuller said.

Despite efforts by the zoo's medical staff, he passed away due to post-birth complications.

Twin reticulated giraffe births are an extremely rare occurrance -- the birth at San Francisco Zoo is only the tenth recorded live birth of both twins in zoos worldwide.

“This is a bitter-sweet announcement to make, but this very unique twin birth is something for all of the Bay Area to take pride in,” SF Zoo president Tanya Peterson said.

The surviving calf is yet to be named, Tuller said.

His mother is 11-year-old Bititi, who was born at the Oakland Zoo and went across the bay to call San Francisco Zoo her home in 2005. His father is 12-year-old Floyd, who was born in Albuquerque at the Rio Grande Zoo.

Bititi and her calf will be outdoors in the south corral of the Osher Family Giraffe Lodge on Friday. Keep checking the zoo's website, Facebook and Twitter for more information on the new calf.


<![CDATA[Steve Martin, Edie Brickell Preview 'Bright Star']]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 20:01:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/steve+martin+the+old+globe.JPG Actor-producer Steve Martin and his musical partner Edie Brickell are making final preparations for the world premier of "Bright Star," their original musical. NBC 7's Artie Ojeda visited the Old Globe to talk to Martin about the project on Aug. 28, 2014. ]]> <![CDATA[Woman Hit from Behind in 6th North Park Attack]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 18:06:58 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/north-park-attack-0829_2.jpg

A woman's screams for help were heard Thursday night in North Park in the same part of town known recently for a series of attacks.

The unidentified victim was walking alone in an alley near Lincoln Avenue and Idaho Street around 11:30 p.m. when she was knocked to the ground and punched in the face, officers said.

It's the sixth attack on women reported in the area of North Park and City Heights since June. Some of the victims have been knocked out. All but one have suffered serious injuries to the face. 

In Thursday's attack, the victim screamed for help and several people in the area came to help.

The suspect then ran northbound in the alley and avoided capture. Witnesses described him as having a normal build, 5-feet 6-inches to 6-feet tall, wearing a red shirt and dark pants.

On Wednesday, June 11, a woman told police she was thrown to the ground by one attacker on 33rd Street. The following Tuesday, June 17, a woman walking on Meade Avenue near 33rd Place around 11:30 p.m. told police she fought off two men. 

On Saturday, June 21, a woman was walking along Lincoln Avenue at 9:20 p.m. when she said two men attempted to attack her.

The next Tuesday, June 24, a woman was walking along Lincoln Avenue near Oregon Street and was knocked unconscious in an attack from behind, police said.

Two victims were able to help investigators create a suspect sketch.

In the end of June, San Diego police released a surveillance video showing a person of interest in the attacks.

Four weeks later, on July 20, a woman was knocked out while walking near the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Kansas Street around 1:20 a.m.

The attacks have prompted residents to attend community meetings and self-defense classes. Some have adopted a buddy system to keep from walking alone at night.

One woman told NBC 7 she  was surprised to learn Thursday's attack happened just outside her building.

"That's too close to home. Way too close to home," she said.

"I think were going to have to move soon cause I don't feel like it's a safe neighborhood anymore," said another woman.

Anybody with information on this assault and/or suspect should call Crime Stoppers at (888)580-8477 or the San Diego Police Department Sex Crimes Unit at (619) 531-2210.


<![CDATA[New Map Details Fire Risk]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 12:17:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Map-blurb-image-new-0829.jpg

San Diego County officials have released a new map showing the areas most at risk for a wildfire.

With fire danger and alerts issued year-round risk, fire crews hope this map will help them predict where a dangerous fire could hit.

The areas in bright red are places which have the oldest fuels, meaning brush and grasses that have not had a fire in more than 40 years. Those areas are the most concerning to fire crews and most at risk for a fast moving fire.

The yellow areas have had fires in the last 20 to 30 years.

The bright green parts have seen a fire in the last 20 years.

Just last May, more than half a dozen fires popped up in our county during a severe Santa Ana.

The destruction caused by those fires prompted county and fire leaders to create this map get a clearer picture of the danger zones.

<![CDATA[Arson Suspected in National City Restaurant Fire]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:21:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Arson-0829.jpg

Flames destroyed a National City restaurant overnight, the same restaurant where someone was shot after a fight broke out at a World Cup soccer celebration earlier this year.

When firefighters arrived to the Rincon Del Mar restaurant just after midnight, they found flames shooting out of the front windows.

Fire crews broke through the front door and opened a hole in the roof to help douse the fire in less than 20 minutes, saving nearby businesses.

Broken glass found among the scorched stools and other furniture led investigators to being an arson investigation.

Firefighters sifted through with flashlights and took pictures to determine the cause.

While they say the fire began just on the inside of front door, they haven’t identified who may have sparked the fire or what they used to do so.

The owner was on the property and appeared to be distraught.

National City Fire Marshal Robert Hernandez said police have begun questioning possible suspects.

Witnesses told investigators that they saw three men running away from the scene but so far there are no leads.

In June, a man was shot several times on the sidewalk outside the Rincon Del Mar restaurant. The shooting began as an argument inside the restaurant where a a World Cup after-game celebration was taking place.

<![CDATA[Ex: Accused Man Still Using Grindr]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:47:04 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Thomas-Guerra-San-Diego.jpg

A San Diego man accused of knowingly spreading HIV to unwitting partners is still active on the dating app Grindr and may be using an alias, an ex-boyfriend tells NBC 7.

Thomas Miguel Guerra, 29, has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge in connection with what San Diego City Attorney officials say was an ongoing plan to knowingly spread HIV.

An ex-boyfriend who spoke with NBC 7 shared a text message in which Guerra appeared to gloat about a person becoming HIV-positive. "Yay lol… Someone getting poz that day lol….Already poz. ...Poor Sucka," the text read.

The ex-boyfriend, who did not want to be identified, said he is concerned he may be a victim. “It’s unconscionable. It's sad," he said.

The city's criminal case against Guerra is based on the claims of another ex-boyfriend of Guerra.

That man says Guerra assured him that he was HIV-negative when they began dating in April 2013, according to an arrest warrant filed April 15.

According to the warrant, the man said he was still worried about contracting HIV and asked Guerra to go together to get tested.

Guerra tested positive at that time, according to the arrest warrant. A week later, the alleged victim also tested positive, prosecutors said.

According to the warrant, in August 2013, Guerra's then-boyfriend discovered message logs on his computer from Guerra to others dating back to 2007 referencing his HIV status.

"Defendant also joked around in text messages about being HIV-positive," the warrant said.

When NBC 7 went to Guerra's Imperial Beach home, he drove away in his SUV without speaking to a reporter. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge against him.

The alleged victim in the criminal case ended his relationship with Guerra in August 2013.

The ex-boyfriend who spoke with NBC 7 is concerned that he too may be a victim, after he had a year-long relationship with Guerra.

He also said he believes there may be as many as 24 people who were unaware of Guerra’s medical history.

Guerra has used Grindr recently under the name “Ashton Chavez,” the ex-boyfriend added.

“What I find grotesque is he'll tell an individual he's negative and brag about it, and laugh about an individual afterwards that he's positive," the ex-boyfriend said.

San Diego police referred the case to San Diego County District Attorney's Office in April. The DA's office declined to issue a felony warrant and referred the case to the City Attorney's office to be handled as a misdemeanor.

Guerra has been charged with one count of violating a section of the Health and Safety Code that states that anyone with a communicable disease who willfully exposes himself to another person is guilty of a misdemeanor.

If convicted, he faces up to six months in jail.

He’s been ordered to appear in court Sept. 2 for a readiness hearing.

The investigation is ongoing, and Guerra could face additional charges.

<![CDATA[Pentagon Cuts 10 Ca. Police Depts.]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 23:41:10 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/napa+county+-+Frank+Deanrdo+-+Crown+Vic.jpg

The Napa County Sheriff's Office has been suspended from a federal military-surplus program after an M-16 military rifle was stolen out of an employee's vehicle in May, information released by the Pentagon reveals.

As a result, the agency can no longer obtain military gear from the Defense Department's 1033 Program. The department is one of two Bay Area law enforcement agencies that have been suspended from the program.

The Pentagon program distributes surplus military gear, including weapons and vehicles, to local law enforcement agencies around the nation. It's the same program responsible for outfitting the police in Ferguson, Missouri, with tactical gear such as armored trucks and assault rifles.

Napa County Undersheriff Jean Donaldson confirmed Friday that the agency was suspended on May 6 of this year. He told NBC Bay Area that the weapon was "stolen from a vehicle" but could not recall what specific model it was, saying only that it was a "military-grade" rifle.

According to The California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the weapon in question was an M16A1, a 5.56mm assault rifle capable of semi-automatic and automatic fire. According to Department of Defense data obtained by the New York Times, Napa County law enforcement agencies received 10 5.56mm rifles in 2008.

Donaldson could not say how long the suspension will last but said the agency would have to undergo a federal inspection of its storage and safety procedures.

The Pentagon data also indicated that nine other California law enforcement agencies have been suspended, including the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department. CalOES told NBC Bay Area that each agency was suspended because it was "unable to account for some equipment acquired through the 1033 program."

According to CalOES, San Mateo County Sheriff's department could not account for two M16A1 rifles and was suspended on October 23, 2013. Calls to the Sheriff's office were not immediately returned.

All told, 148 local law enforcement agencies are currently suspended around the country as of August 25th, 2014 when the data was obtained. About 8,000 agencies participate in the program nationwide.

A "suspended" agency does not have to return previously obtained military equipment, but cannot obtain new gear until the Department of Defense considers the agency in "good standing" again. More egregious handling of military gear could result in a rare "termination," meaning the agency has to actually return the equipment. At this time, only seven agencies have been terminated.

Photo Credit: Frank Deandro / Flickr]]>
<![CDATA[Hit-and-Run Crash Kills Marine on Motorcycle]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 19:42:00 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Oceanside-police-generic-05.jpg

An active duty Marine on a motorcycle died in a hit-and-run crash involving a box truck in Oceanside, according to officials.

The fatal crash happened as both vehicles were heading northbound in the 300 block of Douglas Drive around 8 a.m. Thursday.

Oceanside Police say the driver in a “Budget Rental” white box truck started to make a U-turn ahead of the motorcyclist, who was not able to stop in time.

The rider – later identified as 22-year-old Marine Brandon Joseph Bizzarro – struck the back of the vehicle and suffered major blunt head trauma. The rental truck driver fled from the scene.

Bizzarro was airlifted to Scripps La Jolla Hospital to be placed on life support, but around 4:30 p.m., he died.

The hit-and-run driver later changed his mind and returned to the scene, Oceanside Police say. The suspect, Ezequiel Garcia, was taken to the police station, interviewed and subsequently arrested for felony hit-and-run.

Garcia is being held on $50,000 and should appear in court Tuesday.

Investigators are not sure if alcohol or speed played a role in the crash.

If you have any information about the collision, call accident investigator Bryan Hendrix at 760-435-4882.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Accused Nurse Case Prompts Foster Licensing Review]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 20:09:27 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MICHAEL+WILLIAM+LUTTS+Booking+Photo.JPG

Child Welfare Services is reviewing how it licenses foster parents after a local pediatric nurse was accused of molesting a 2-month-old child in his care, recording the abuse and distributing it as child pornography.

As it stands, foster parent applicants must attend an orientation, pass a criminal background check and undergo 27 hours of training, according to Debra Zanders-Willis, director of Child Welfare Services is San Diego County.

Zanders-Willis said she plans to have a conversation with the state office about possible enhancements to the licensing process, suggesting asking for letters of reference from an applicant’s friends, family and employer. Such letters are currently not required, nor are any interviews.

NBC 7 began looking into the process after 50-year-old Michael Lutts, a Kaiser Permanente pediatric nurse, was accused of repeated, graphic acts of sexual molestation against a prematurely born baby boy he was fostering. He has been charged with the sexual exploitation of a child in federal court.

“It's a tragic situation,” said Zanders-Willis, who says in her 26 years in the field, she’s never seen anything like this. “I know all of us here are devastated by the betrayal of public trust that was placed in a foster parent.”

Lutts was arrested Tuesday at his College Area home as FBI agents served a search warrant related to an ongoing child pornography investigation. According to the federal complaint, an agent traced his email address as one that had distributed images to another individual they were investigating.

The FBI says while serving the warrant, they seized hundreds of images and videos of child pornography on hard drives, computers and Lutts’ cell phone – images of children the agency says it’s determined to protect.

“Every time that image is viewed, that child is victimized again and again and again,” said Special Agent Darrell Foxworth of the FBI. “We're not just talking about a crime that's facilitated through the computer. We're talking about actual physical victims in these cases.”

Foxworth says agents are now reviewing the evidence, looking to identify any other potential victims or suspects involved. Lutts' position as a pediatric nurse at Kaiser Permanente is especially concerning, he says, given his access to children.

Kaiser Permanente, in a statement to NBC 7, says it’s cooperating fully in the investigation and that Lutts is no longer working there pending the outcome of the investigation and criminal proceedings. But the company would not disclose how long he worked there or on which campus, nor would it say whether it’s reaching out to Lutts’ patients and their families.

Foxworth says if you have any information about this case or know anyone who may have been in Lutts' care you're concerned about, please come forward to the FBI.

Lutts is expected in federal court Friday morning.

Photo Credit: FBI]]>
<![CDATA[California Uproots Grassy Lawns]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:13:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP36505113488.jpg

Daniel and Joanne Azarnoff had the quintessential, grassy green lawn outside their house in the San Francisco Bay area -- until this bone-dry summer.

With the help of the Solano County Water Agency, they ripped up turf and replaced it with a mix of slate, stones, redwood mulch and drought-resistant plants more suitable to Rio Vista's Mediterranean climate.

“We did it because California has a drought, and we thought it would be a good way to reduce the amount of water which we use,” Daniel Azarnoff said.

Their decision is one California officials wish more residents would make. Communities and water agencies across the state have been paying to encourage homeowners and businesses to replace grass with more appropriate and less thirsty plants. Now, with California in its third year of a severe drought, the so-called “cash for grass” programs are bursting in popularity, if still small in size.

In the city of Long Beach, about 1,500 homeowners have taken advantage of the 4-year-old program there, which pays $3.50 per square foot — but that is out of the owners of about 60,000 single-family homes.

“A lot of people love their lawn,” said Joyce Barkley, the city’s water conservation specialist. “It’s a challenge.”

Instead of grass, Barkley tries to interest residents in sages, blue fescue, lion’s tail, lilacs, lavenders, olive trees and other drought-tolerant plantings.

The hope is that other homeowners will imitate the gardens made up of plants that thrive in Long Beach's annual 12 inches of rainfall, rather than lawns that need seven times that amount, Barkley said.

Water-greedy irrigation

In many ways, Californians do well conserving water, with most of the state's water going toward irrigating crops, said Hadley Arnold, executive director of the Arid Lands Institute at Woodbury University in Burbank.

One exception? Lawn irrigation. In Los Angeles, 54 percent of residential water consumption is used outdoors, according to the 2010 Urban Water Management Plan from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Add in commercial, industrial, governmental and multi-family consumption and that number is 39 percent.

“Where we’re still water-greedy is irrigation,” she said. “You can irrigate with recycled water.”

At least 26 water agencies across the states are offering rebates, according to the Association of California Water Agencies. There has been a surge of interest this summer, said Lisa Lien-Mager, the association’s director of communications.

The number of requests for turf removal the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has received since January are nearly double the total number of requests over the last five years, the district says.

In July, it got requests to remove 2.5 million square feet of turf — the equivalent of 1,665 typical front yards, and up from 99,000 square feet in January.

The rise in requests from businesses was even more significant: 4.7 million square feet, or the equivalent of 82 football fields, up from 22,000 square feet.

In May, the district, a cooperative of cites and water agencies serving nearly 19 million people, doubled its rebates from $1 to $2 per square foot for consumers and businesses.

Nurturing wildlife, conserving resources

Water restrictions put in place as a result of the drought have left lots of dead lawns and have prompted homeowners to think about what to do with a much more limited water supply, said Bart O’Brien, director of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Berkeley.

“Everyone has taken water supply pretty much for granted until this unprecedented, longer, drier drought than we’ve had in historic times,” he said.

Gardeners are taking new interest in native California plants, which not only use less water but also can help sustain insects, birds, lizards and other wildlife that have become endangered by the loss of natural areas.

"Through the act of thoughtful gardening, we can make a rather significant difference," said Carol Bornstein, the director of the Nature Gardens at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

The Solano County Water Agency's program is four years old, but 65 percent of its 282 participants signed up in the last fiscal year, according to the agency. Since July, 56 projects have been completed. It pays $1 per square foot for up to 1,000 square feet for environmentally friendly landscaping.

"I think it's opening up a lot of people's eyes especially right now," said Lara Remitz, a landscape architecture student at the University of California, Davis, who has been working with the program. "It helps people understand that there is an issue with water."

But she has noticed that some homeowners still leave a patch of dirt that they plan to return to lawn if the drought eases.

"There's still a large resistance to the idea," she said.

In Rio Vista, the Azarnoffs are happy with their new landscaping. They had liked their lawn, but it was maintained by a sprinkler system, Daniel Azarnoff said. By switching to a drip system that targets only the plants, they are using much less water, he said.

“And it still looks very beautiful,” he said.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[3 Seen Running From Cowles Mountain Fire]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 21:39:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/212*120/Winslow+Township+Fire+Generic+Fire+Tape.JPG

San Diego Fire crews are trying to determine if a brush fire at the Cowles Mountain trail entrance was started by arsonists.

Witnesses say they saw three people run away from the small fire, which sparked around 8:45 p.m. on a hillside near Navajo Road at Golfcrest Drive.

The fleeing people then got into a car and drove off. Meanwhile, firefighters made quick work of the flames off one of the trails.

Metro Arson Strike Team investigators have taped off the area so they can investigate possible arson in this case.

However, they may have to wait for better morning light to discover more evidence.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Kids in Car as Parents Gambled: PD]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:33:30 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/082914+tyrell+johnson+josephine+laidler.jpg

Two young children were left in a car outside a South Florida casino while their parents gambled inside early Thursday, police say.

The children, ages four and one, were found in a car in the parking lot of the Hialeah Park Casino at 2200 E. 4th Ave., said Hialeah Police spokesman Carl Zogby.

The kids were spotted by casino employees in the unattended car just after midnight, Zogby said.

"The kids were subject to anything happening to them. They could've walked out of the car, or someone could've come in — who knows what could've happened," Zogby said.

He said the parents had been inside gambling, possibly for over an hour, while their children sat in the car, which had the engine running and the air conditioning on.

The parents, Tyrell Johnson and his girlfriend Josephine Laidler, were both charged with child neglect, Zogby said.

Footage showed the man and woman being detained by police at the scene and the two young children playing with officers.

Hialeah Police and the Department of Children and Families are investigating the incident.

The children were put into the custody of their grandparents by a family court judge Thursday afternoon. If the parents bond out of jail, they are not allowed to go near the kids.

The Hialeah casino also banned the couple for life.

Photo Credit: Miami-Dade Corrections]]>
<![CDATA["Gun Violence Restraining Order" Bill Approved]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:17:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/UCSD-Vigil-Isla-Vista-05262.jpg

The California Senate has passed AB 1014, which would allow law enforcement or family members of a person who is displaying signs of violence to petition a court for a restraining order.

That order would allow law enforcement officials to take away the person’s guns temporarily. The bill comes as a response to the Isla Vista shooting spree that left six UC Santa Barbara students dead.

“It's just another tool in law enforcement's tool box to help mitigate or deal with situations that can potentially turn violence," said Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson.

Christianson is also the president of the California State Sheriff’s Association.

“It's no different from what we're doing with domestic violence restraining orders. It just expands our abilities to look for those danger signs,” he told NBC 7.

In February 2013, two deputies were shot during a SWAT standoff in Encinitas with a 22-year-old man.

His family says he struggled with anxiety and depression.

His mother filed for a restraining order just days before the shooting. During the standoff, the young man killed himself. His family told NBC 7 they tried their hardest to get him help.

Gun rights advocate and CEO of Ares Armor Dimitri Karras says although the bill was created with the best of intentions, he believes it’s unconstitutional.

“Having law enforcement show up and strip you of your rights simply because of an allegation is a huge violation of the second amendment,” he said. “It will be challenged, it will be struck down it is unconstitutional and that's going to be the end of it.”

The bill now heads back to the Assembly for further action.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[New Info on Del Mar Horse Deaths]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 07:23:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/6PY_VO_DEL_MAR_HORSE_DE_KNSD4GSN_1200x675_312812611676.jpg

NBC 7 has learned new details about four horses that died at the Del Mar Race Track this season and as it turns out, one expert says the deaths cannot be attributed to track or turf surfaces.

NBC 7 obtained from The California Horse Racing Board the results of four necropsies. The horse names have been redacted but the necropsies state that two of those four horses died suddenly.

There is no exact determination by the attending veterinarian but Equine Medical Director, Dr. Rick Arthur, said the deaths were presumably heart attack.

Another horse died in its stall of unknown causes and the fourth broke loose from its rider, crashed into a fence and injured its leg so bad that it was euthanized.

Dr. Arthur said none of these deaths can be attributed to track surfaces.

Dr. Arthur said determining the track surface is the origin of severe injury is difficult. He said that in 95 percent of cases where horses are euthanized because of injury, there is some pre-existing condition that contributes to it.

Enhanced necropsies are being performed on six other horses that died this season at Del Mar. The results are part of a state investigation into this unusual number of fatalities at the famous seaside track.

Those results aren’t expected for several weeks.

In late July, following the deaths of seven horses, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club closed its turf track for about a week so crews could inspect the turf and prevent further equine injuries.

After the turf track was reopened, there was another serious horse injury, prompting track officials to close it yet again on Aug. 1 for another week for aggressive maintenance. A track consultant was also hired.

<![CDATA[Man in HIV Case Could Face More Charges]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 06:52:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/HIVsuspect0826_1200x675_322276931874.jpg

The San Diego City Attorney’s office is investigating additional charges against a man accused of intentionally infecting his boyfriend with HIV, according to a city spokesperson.

Thomas Miguel Guerra, 29, has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor health and safety violation that alleges he is a “person afflicted with any contagious, infectious or communicable disease who willfully exposes himself to another person.”

However, Michael Giorgino, Chief Deputy City Attorney of Communications, told NBC 7 his office has filed an amended complaint that identifies the disease as HIV and the alleged victim.

Meanwhile, a continuing investigation will determine if more charges should be filed against Guerra, Giorgino said.

Guerra will be arraigned on the amended complaint on Sept. 2.

According to the original complaint, the victim and Guerra dated for about four months. The man told police he was very concerned about contracting HIV, so he asked Guerra if he was HIV positive. Guerra told him no, and they agreed to have unprotected sex, the court document says.

However, when they later got tested, Guerra tested positive for HIV. So did the victim.

Guerra maintained that he did not know about his infection, and the two continued dating until the suspect backed up his cell phone on the victim’s computer.

The complaint says during that process, the victim found text messages, videos and emails that confirmed Guerra knew he had HIV since 2007.

Guerra even joked in text messages about being HIV positive and other people not knowing it, the victim says.

The victim then broke up with Guerra and went to the police with his allegations.

Giorgino said police originally sent the case to the District Attorney’s Office for felony review, but when they declined to file charges, the case was sent to the city attorney’s office, which handles misdemeanors.

If convicted of the health and safety violation, Guerra could face up to six months in jail.

<![CDATA[Suspicious Package Found at State Building]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:20:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/172351747.jpg

The state building in downtown San Diego was evacuated Thursday afternoon after a suspicious package was discovered.

It turned out to be a box with a lady’s handbag inside, according to the bomb squad.

The Metro Arson Strike Team was called to 1350 Front St. around 4:30 p.m. after a clerk of a judge received a suspicious delivery. The bomb squad said the package was suspicious because it came from someone who wasn’t supposed to be sending packages.

The bomb squad examined the box, deemed it safe and cleared the scene by 6 p.m.

No one was injured.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Push to Implement Mental Health Law]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 20:29:59 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/supervisor+dave+roberts.JPG

San Diego County may soon see a big shift in the way patients with mental illness are treated as county supervisors work to implement Laura’s Law by next year.

The California state law, which passed in 2002, allows courts to require people with serious mental illness to accept treatment as a condition of living in the area. San Diego has not implemented the measure.

Supervisor Dave Roberts leans on his own, terrifying experience when he talks about mental health care. He was the victim of a random attack last October on his way to a speaking engagement.

“He jumped out of a van and went at me with a knife. It was noon on a Saturday,” said Roberts.

His attacker is now getting mental health care in prison. The bizarre experience has made him passionate about mental health, he told NBC 7.

“It literally could happen to anybody. Of course, I never thought anything like this would happen to me,” Roberts said.

A similar incident happened earlier this month near the UTC mall, when Odie Miller, 20, allegedly stabbed a biotech executive at random in the middle of the day. The suspect’s father says he told his son something like this would have to happen before Miller accepted treatment.

Just a year ago, the mother of 22-year-old Evan Kwik begged the county for some kind of change after her son shot two sheriff’s deputies in a 10-hour SWAT standoff before killing himself.

All cases may have been prevented if Laura’s Law had been in effect in the county, officials say.

Roberts and County Behavioral Health Director Alfredo Aguirre think the measure could move forward as early as next year.

“I’m feeling optimistic. The economy is looking relatively stable and there’s been improvements, but we are feeling more confident about that,” said Aguirre.

Roberts hopes to bring Laura’s Law before the board of supervisors in the next six months, though he admits there are still several issues the county needs to deal with before a decision is made.

He said Laura’s Law will not only help public safety, but county and municipal budgets as well.

“You won’t have to do SWAT teams if you have a situation, you won’t have to do incarcerations, you won’t have to do other types of activities,” said Roberts. “That’s another important aspect that you have to look at.”

Until recently, only one county in California has implemented Laura’s Law. Now several large counties are going forward with it, including Orange County, San Francisco County and Los Angeles County.

<![CDATA[1 Hurt, Cat Dies as Limo Facility Burns in Midway]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 19:44:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/fire+at+limo+service.JPG

A man had to climb out of a second story window to escape a building fire in the Midway District, fire officials say.

Heavy smoke and fire began pouring from Carey Limousine Chauffeur & Guide Service in the 3000 block of Rosecrans Place after the flames sparked around 3:30 p.m.

The fire spread through the office space of the limo storage facility.

San Diego Fire-Rescue says one man was inside at the time, and he had to escape through a window on the second floor of the building.

He was taken to UC San Diego Medical Center for smoke inhalation. A cat was later found dead inside.

Because of there are few fire breaks in the building, the fire quickly got into the roof, which presented a challenge for firefighters.

Still, the fire was extinguished within about half an hour, before it spread to a nearby apartment building or Navy housing across the street.

None of the limousines in the garage -- which made up three-fourths of the building -- were damaged.

Police were on scene providing traffic control, and the Metro Arson Strike Team has taken over investigating the cause of the fire.

They say the fire caused an estimated $200,000 in damage to the building and $100,000 in damage to the contents.

Photo Credit: Chip Bowman]]>
<![CDATA[‘The Hills Bandit’ Strikes Again]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:59:33 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Hills-Bandit-Again-0828.jpg

A Southern California bank robber known as “The Hills Bandit” is at it again, this time robbing banks in both Laguna Niguel, California, and San Diego over the course of only a few days.

According to the FBI, the bandit’s latest heist was on Monday around 12:20 p.m. at the California Bank and Trust at 4320 La Jolla Village Dr. Investigators said the suspect walked up to a teller and presented a demand note stating this was a robbery and that he wanted bills in the denominations of $20, $50 and $100. He said he had a gun and threatened to start shooting people if his demands were not met.

After receiving some cash, he left. No one was injured, officials said.

A couple days earlier – on Aug. 22, also at around 12:20 p.m. – The Hills Bandit struck at a Wells Fargo Bank on Town Center Drive in Laguna Niguel. Again, he used a handwritten note demanding $20, $50 and $100 bills and said he’d shoot everyone if he didn’t get his money.

He got his cash and fled the scene. Investigators said no gun was seen and no one was injured.

Since May 2014, the lone bandit has robbed multiple banks in Southern California, mostly in the Los Angeles area. On Aug. 5 he hit a U.S. Bank in Carlsbad.

The FBI said witnesses describe the bandit as a white male between 40 and 50 years old. He’s approximately 5-foot-6 to 6-feet-tall and 180 to 90 pounds. He typically wears glasses and a baseball hat during his robberies. In the last two hold-ups he wore a red Anaheim Angels baseball cap.

Investigators said The Hills Bandit has also been seen carrying a blue bank deposit bag during each robbery. A silver car has been seen at two of the robberies as well.

To date, he remains at large and is considered armed and dangerous.

Anyone with information on The Hills Bandit should contact FBI San Diego at (858) 320-1800, Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477 or FBI Los Angeles at (310) 477-6565.

Photo Credit: FBI]]>
<![CDATA[HP Exec Assistant Used Stolen Funds for Shopping Spree]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:40:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Credit-Card-Gen.jpg

A former San Diego-based Hewlett Packard employee has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $1 million in company funds to fuel a lofty personal shopping spree that included spa and resort visits, international airfare, Apple products and trips to Nordstrom.

The office of U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy confirmed that Holli Coulman, 43, entered a guilty plea Wednesday in the scheme that afforded her a luxurious lifestyle on her company’s dime.

According to court documents, Coulman began working at Hewlett Packard (HP) in San Diego in June 2000 and served as an executive assistant to a company senior vice president from 2008 to May 2012.

In that assistant position, she received access to many American Express corporate credit cards authorized only for approved business expenses.

Coulman, however, used the cards to maintain a lavish lifestyle, using them to fund international trips, country club expenses and high-end clothing purchases. Court documents said she then falsely claimed those purchases as legitimate business expenses.

In all, Coulman allegedly stole approximately $954,292.31 from HP.

Her shopping spree tab included spending more than $100,000 at the La Costa Resort Spa and more than $43,000 at the Lodge at Pebble Beach and Casa Palermo at Pebble Beach. She also spent thousands at the Apple Store, Neiman-Marcus and Nordstrom. She also purchased more than $33,000 in motocross gear, according to prosecutors.

On top of those charges, Coulman admitted she used her company credit card to charge more than $350,000 in expenses accrued by her brother’s painting business in Colorado.

As revealed in her plea, Coulman attempted to cover up her theft of company funds by intercepting emails sent from HP program administrators that questioned her personal expenditures. Documents said she would often delete those emails before they could be reviewed by her boss.

In some instances, Coulman fabricated responses saying the expenses had been approved by her boss and submitted false receipts and invoices to cover her bases.

Coulman is scheduled for sentencing before a U.S. District judge on Dec. 1. She faces a maximum of 20 years behind bars for the wire fraud scheme, plus a $250,000 fine.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC 7 San Diego

Photo Credit: clipart.com]]>